The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

LAHS senior hosts open microphone event at Red Rock Cafe

Matchbox host senior Jordan Rahmfeld stands at the microphone to announce the next performance.
Courtesy Anthony Tam
Matchbox host senior Jordan Rahmfeld stands at the microphone to announce the next performance.

Red Rock Coffee is painted with a cheerful red, adorned with sparkling lights strung along the walls. Teenagers flit from table to table, excitedly greeting each other. At the far end of the room are two microphone stands, each accompanied by a stool.

Senior Jordan Rahmfeld walks up to one of the microphones and claps her hands to get the audience’s attention.

“Hi, I’m Jo,” she says. Someone cheers, and she smiles. “Welcome to Matchbox,” she continues, and the room swells with applause.

The Matchbox poetry open mic, hosted by Jordan, took place last Friday at Red Rock. Jordan’s goal in hosting Matchbox was to create a no-pressure environment for young performers.

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“Poetry is kind of like group therapy,” Jordan said while introducing the event. “You bond over your personal trauma! Whenever you go on an emotional rollercoaster with your therapist, they never say what you want them to say, which is ‘Oh, you poor sweet little poo-poo, this session is free.’ No, they ask you, ‘Where’s your credit card?’ So therapy is exactly what we’re doing here.”

Donations raised from the open mic were put towards supporting the slam poetry team, which Jordan and many poets who performed at Matchbox are a part of. There were 16 performances, ranging from passionate poetry to heartfelt singing and soft guitar solos.

“I was hoping there would be enough people for the performers to have an audience, maybe double the number of performers,” Jordan said. “I thought there would be 30 people tops.”

But the number of attendees far surpassed what Jordan had expected, with over 65 people in attendance.

“It was pretty stressful organizing the event,” Jordan said. “On the morning of the event, I was like, ‘Okay, if I can just survive until 8 p.m. today, then it’s going to be a ‘W.’”

But despite her nerves, Matchbox performers agree that Jordan successfully created a welcoming atmosphere for the event, especially for them.

“If this is your first time at a poetry event, what we usually do is snap instead of clapping,” Jordan told the audience. “Whenever you hear a line you like, you snap. If a part really resonates with you, you snap. No matter what, you keep snapping.”

Jordan also taught the audience to “mmm” in approval and led competitions to see which side of the room would be able to out-snap or out-mmm the other, promising the winning side her “unconditional love”.

“If your fingers are still working by the end of the event, you’re doing something wrong,” she said.

Performers said that Jordan’s enthusiasm helped them with their confidence.

“Jo handling the crowd between the snapping and the mmm-ing competitions definitely helped with nerves,” senior Madi Tan, Matchbox performer and member of the LAHS slam poetry team, said.

Open mic attendees were primarily from LAHS, but there were also students from Mountain View High School and Palo Alto High School.

“We came here to support Jo,” MVHS senior Alara Sweet said.

Fellow MVHS senior Disha Kumar sang “Graceland Too” by Phoebe Bridgers as a duet, with Alara accompanying on an acoustic guitar.

“I was nervous, but mostly because of the guitar,” Alara said. “I taught myself guitar last summer. It was my first time ever playing guitar in front of more than one or two friends.”

“We’ve both been theater kids basically our entire lives, so I definitely think that I was anxious because that is kind of what comes along with it,” Disha added. “But as soon as I started singing for more than 10 seconds, I immediately felt so much better because people are so nice and supportive. And afterward, people kept coming up to me being like ‘You sounded so great!’”

And for some, it was the first time they had ever participated in an event like an open mic.

“It was my first time doing an event like this,” LAHS sophomore Kaylee Asuncion said. “I’ve always wanted to attend an open mic, and look at me now! First one ever.”

Highlights were performances from the members of the LAHS slam poetry team with powerful poems about identity and racism, among other topics. The event opened with sophomore Kaiden Luis’s poem “Dear J.K. Rowling” and closed out with MVHS senior Andrew Cobar’s guitar versions of “Sweater Weather” by The Neighborhood and “Let Her Go” by Passenger.

“The performers really gave it their all,” Jordan said. “They were so good, every single one of them. I was really paranoid and came up with plans for every possible situation that could have happened yesterday, but I learned to have faith in the performers and their talent. Everyone was working together to get this event to happen and be a success, and I’m really grateful to them for everything.”

Despite the event’s popularity, not enough money was raised this time around to fund the slam poetry team’s travel expenses and other costs of competing; for example, the team hopes to go to Washington D.C. next summer to attend a nationwide poetry slam competition.

“Next time, if we can’t raise more money, then I’ll have to start making Matchbox a ticketed event,” Jordan said. “I really don’t want to do that because I feel like I shouldn’t have to attach a price tag to this.”

Jordan hopes to hold Matchbox open mics frequently. The next Matchbox open mic will be held on November 10 at Red Rock Coffee free from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m; more information about the event can be found at @thematchbox.openmic on Instagram.

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Annabelle Lee, Staff Writer

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